The German wind energy industry is feeling a little more buoyant again. In the first half of 2021, 240 onshore wind turbines with a capacity of 971 megawatts (MW) were installed in Germany. This expansion already exceeds the amount that was installed in 2019 as a whole. The year before last, with an increase of 958 MW, was also the low point in the expansion of wind energy capacity since 2000. The highest level reached so far was in 2017 with a gross increase of 5498 MW.
After all, the number for the first six months is also 62 percent above the output that was put into operation in the first half of 2020. Last year the industry ended up with an overall plus of 1412 MW. The operators also decommissioned 135 wind turbines with a capacity of 140 MW during the past six months. The net increase was 831 MW. The total system portfolio increased by 1.5 percent to 55,772 MW by the end of June. This capacity is currently provided by 29,715 onshore wind turbines across the country.
The information comes from a compiled for the industry associations VDMA Power Systems and Bundesverband Windenergie (BWE) Statusbericht the German WindGuard. The regional distribution of the plants shows a clear north-south divide. The coastal states of Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania as well as Bremen and Hamburg account for around 41 percent of the cumulative installed capacity. Around 44 percent can be assigned to the federal states in central Germany, with Brandenburg just ahead of North Rhine-Westphalia.
“The renewed market growth is not enough to meet the targets of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) 2021 of almost 4,000 MW per year”, Matthias Zelinger, managing director of VDMA Power Systems, warns politicians to hurry. With the tightened climate protection law and the increased power consumption forecast, a further increase in the gross annual expansion targets to at least 5000 MW in Germany will be necessary. In addition, with the EU package of measures “Fit for 55”, the expansion of wind energy in Europe must be doubled from 15,000 to 30,000 MW annually.
The federal government should act quickly
The associations therefore see the next federal government as having a duty to legislate before the end of the year. In the first 60 days, you have to “set the course for permits in the order of 6000 MW per year”. In this way, the dent in the extension between 2018 and 2021 could be absorbed and “the renewal of the plant park” could also be designed with so-called repowering.
In June the Bundestag passed a draft law with which it intends to implement the requirements of the EU directive on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, as well as an ordinance on the implementation of the EEG. This should make the approval process for wind turbines more efficient and less complicated. The coalition made repowering easier: In the future, the only decisive factor in the approval process is whether additional burdens arise.
The two associations generally complain about “poor regulation”. “A lack of binding land designation, unspeakably complicated approval processes” and the unresolved species protection conflict continued to slow the industry. Currently, due to the length of the process and the small parts involved in planning, it is sometimes hardly possible to reliably calculate transport costs and approval periods for projects well in advance. It was previously known that wind power plants in the North Sea delivered significantly less electricity in the first half of the year than in the same period of the previous year due to the weather.